Kerry 1-15 Limerick 1-19

Limerick were magnificent in their opening round win over Wexford while Kerry proved with an impressive away win over Laois that they determined to prove any doubters wrong , who feel that they will not be able to compete, now that they are upped in grade.

So when Liam McCarthy hopefuls Limerick, even without their Na Piarsaigh contingent took on Div 1B debutants Kerry at a wet and dreary Fitzgerald Stadium on Sunday, the general consensus was that the Kingdom are not yet ready to match the might of a Limerick or Clare as they are on a learning curve.

Kerry had met the Treaty boys six times since 1960, with Limerick winning all six, their last league meeting, was in April 2011, in Kilmallock with Limerick winning 1-24 to 1-9 and in early January the Shannonsiders beat the Kingdom well, in the opening round of the Munster Senior League.

But Kerry confounded the doubters with a gutsy second-half display after trailing by 11 points at the interval having played into the teeth of a gale, but showed no fear in the second as they outscored their opponents 0-10 to 0-03 in the second period, to finish much closer to McCarthy Cup hopefuls Limerick than most had expected.

It was a vociferous 1,612 that roared Kerry on and that was the biggest crowd Kerry have played in front of at home since possibly Limerick back in 2003.

TJ Ryan's side had the strong wind to their backs in the opening half and after a slow opening ten minutes really got going, against a Kerry side who were hurling well against the elements. Limerick led 0-04 to 0-02 after ten, thanks to two points from nippy corner forward Barry Nash, and one each from Cian Lynch and Paul Browne. Michael O’Leary and a beauty from John Egan had the hosts right in the contest, playing controlled intelligent hurling.

However Kerry began to turn over ball as they tried to play the short passing game against the wind, and 
Declan Hannon and David Reidy punished Kerry and then in the 19th minute, Limerick struck for a crucial goal in the 19th minute, when Gavin O’Mahony found Declan Hannon, who fired low to the Kerry net.

Further points from a Diarmuid Byrne free and a Graham Mulcahy point, had the victors 1-11 to 0-02 in front, but it did scant justice to Kerry’s efforts. 

However driven on by Bryan Murphy, Keith Carmody, Tommy Casey and Patrick Kelly, they finished the half well with Mikey Boyle doubling on a Shane Nolan free that dropped in the danger zone for a vital Kerry goal. When Colum Harty fired over a super point from the side line, Limerick retired 1-16 to 1-05.

It was all Kerry in the second half in the wind and rain, as Limerick were forced on the back foot and only managed 0-03 from two Declan Hannon frees and a score from play, came via substitute Sean Tobin in the final minutes.

Kerry with Tommy Casey and Patrick Kelly driving them on as their defence fought manfully for every ball, opening the second period with a point from teenager Jack Goulding, and only for seven second half wides, an upset was on the cards.

Nolan, John Egan from frees and play, and substitute Philip Lucid chipped in with 0-02 off the bench as Kerry closed the gap to five.

They then had a goal chance which was ruled out due to a square ball, but Patrick Kelly fired over the last point for Ciarán Carey's troops, who despite another impressive and committed display, finished within four points of 1/25 favourites Limerick, whose manager T J Ryan afterwards admitted that  he was not happy with his sides second half performance. 

Kerry: M Stackpoole: S Weir, B Murphy, K Carmody; D Collins, J Griffin, T Murnane; P Kelly 0-01 , T Casey;  S Nolan 0-04 frees , M O’Leary 0-02 , C Harty 0-1 ; J Egan 0-04 ( 0-2 frees) , M Boyle ( 1-00) , J Goulding.(0-01)

Subs: J Conway for S Nolan (55), P Lucid(0-2) for J Goulding (63), J Diggins for D Collins (70)

Limerick: N Quaid: T Condon, R McCarthy, R English, D Morrissey, D Byrne( 0-3, 0-2 frees, 0-1’65) , S Hickey, D O’Donovan, P Browne (0-02) , D Reidy (0-03) , G O’Mahony, C Lynch (0-01) , G Mulcahy (0-01) , D Hannon (1-04 , 0-04 frees, B Nash ( 0-04) :

Subs: J Fitzgibbon for D O’Donovan (29), P O’Brien for D Reidy (50), S Tobin(0-1) for G Mulcahy (54), T Morrissey for B Nash (58), P Ryan for T Condon (60)

Referee:  J Ryan (Tipperary)